Kelly Slater beat Taj Burrow 18.97 to 18.63 to win his third Boost Mobile Pro title at Lower Trestles today. He is now as close as one event away from winning a record ninth ASP World Title.
Burrow blitzed early and with a 9.00 and 9.63 in his scoreline before the halfway mark, had Slater looking for a combination of excellent scoring waves to contend. In sheer Slater fashion, the eight-time ASP World Champion fought his way back to claim victory – his fifth of the season.
“I was literally out there just trying to save face, I thought Taj had me – he was on fire,” Slater said. “I was just trying to get out of combo and put on a good show for everybody. I got a 9.7 on a smaller wave that had a clean face and let me get a lot of speed and some big carves and that let me get back in.”
Even with the 9.7, Slater was still searching for an 8.93. Burrow gave Slater a very average looking wave with less than two minutes to go – a mistake that cost him the win and a healthy prize purse. Hurley, the presenting sponsor of the event, threw an additional US$45,000 on top of the standard US$30,000 first place prize purse – the winner of the Boost Mobile Pro presented by Hurley took home US$75,000 today.
“Taj had priority and he let that wave go because it was the first wave and he probably thought it was going to be bumpy but it let me do a lot on it,” Slater said. “It was a really good wave, but it was the first wave of the set.”
To add insult to Burrow’s injury, the final was five minutes longer than the standard ASP final which is usually 35-minutes in duration. Slater talked Burrow and the contest director into lengthening the heat before they paddled out and that was the difference today.
“We went over and talked to Snips (contest director Mike Parsons) before the heat,” Slater said. “Taj wanted to do a 35-minute heat and I said,‘Why don’t we do a 40 minute final, we’ve got all the time in the world this afternoon.’ If we had done a 35-minute heat I would have lost.”
Burrow wore his disappointment at today’s loss on his sleeve.
“I felt like I won,” Burrow said. “I don’t think that wave had the scoring potential. I just had a feeling that they were going to give it to him. He had a lot of energy about him. He’s Kelly and he finished it. He got to the end and I knew it was going to be a good score. I don’t know what else I could have done. I picked the best waves and surfed them really well so it’s frustrating. He was really hungry and ended up clinching it.”
Burrow jumped from World No. 4 to World No. 2 with the result but it was of little consolation.
“I don’t really care about the ratings because I know Kelly is so far ahead that it’s almost impossible to catch him,” Burrow said. “I just wanted to win the event and I thought I did and now I didn’t, so I’m frustrated.”
Slater has to win the event at the next tour stop in France to seal the deal on title No. 9 there. And even if he does win, should Burrow finish 3rd or World No. 3 Bede Durbidge (AUS) or World No. 5 Mick Fanning (AUS) make the final, the race will continue until the following stop in Mundaka, Spain. World No. 4 Joel Parkinson (AUS) only stays in World Title contention if Slater finishes second or lower in France. Had Burrow won today, Slater would not have been mathematically capable of clinching the title at the next event.
Slater beat 2006 Boost Mobile Pro Champion Bede Durbidge (AUS) in the semifinal round. The heat was a flashback to the 2006 Lower Trestles final the two shared – but with a different outcome.
“I had the opportunity to make the final on the last wave and my front foot slipped and I got caught behind the section,” Durbidge said. “We didn’t get the best waves in that heat and there weren’t many opportunities. The heat came down to the wire and I tried my hardest and that’s all you can do.”
Durbidge maintains his World No. 3 rating with the result.
“I definitely had a good event,” Durbidge said.” I felt really good. I have a good board and I’ll take that to Europe and try to keep the ball rolling.”
Burrow had to get past France’s Jeremy Flores to make today’s final. Like nearly all of the heats held today, the competition was close.
“I think these are the conditions that Taj (Burrow) surfs the best in –the little rights with the onshore winds,” Flores said. “I tried my best and it’s okay. I gave him a go. I came here with no goal at all. I came here to get just a few waves as a warm up for France and it ended up good.”
Flores, who was ASP Rookie of the Year in 2007, made it to the semifinals of the Boost Mobile Pro last year too. He is back in the Top 10 after today’s equal third finish.
“I think I had harder heats this year,” Flores said. “So I’m happier with the result this year compared to last year.”
California’s Bobby Martinez and Dane Reynolds made the quarterfinals, as did Fanning and Brazilian rookie Heitor Alves. The next stop on the 2008 ASP World Tour will start on September 19 in Hossegor, France.